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I recently made the trek to Santa Maria to pick up my 230i to complete a journey that started and ended as my best experience ever getting into a new car.

I’m going to make this a bit long, because I would have appreciated reading about someone’s recent experience going through the process while doing my research. This does include a big pandemic curveball thrown in during the process.

My Audi lease wasn’t due for another 4 months, but I had the itch and started to look around for vehicles. I decided to send Jon an email to inquire about a 230i with a manual gearbox custom order, at the time I was mainly interested in a timeline to figure out when I would need to pull the trigger. Jon informed me that there were a few reasons that necessitated getting the process started quickly and he’d need some basic info to get a quote started.

The quote Jon sent me was better than I ever expected, which made it a no brainer to proceed with the order. Over the next two days was the most difficult part of the process, finalizing the order by picking colors and options. Jon helped me pick out Alpine White with a Coral interior, the next day I woke up wanting Adaptive LED Headlights, which was then added..

Jon secured the allocation while I completed the BMWFS credit application and sent in a deposit. From that point it was just a waiting game on my end, Jon sent me emails with updates as the order moved through the system. It turned out I got really lucky with the timing of the order, the car made it on a ship 2 days before BMW shut down the Leipzig factory due to COVID-19.

From this point it was just waiting through the COVID-19 delays. The Roll-On Roll-Off (RORO) vehicle carrier, the Demeter Leader, made a couple of stops before crossing the Atlantic and Carribean. At this time I learned that my employer was part of BMWs corporate discount program, so I was able to get that added to the deal. The Demeter Leader seemed to get stuck on the Carribean side of the Panama Canal for days, then there was a closure at the Vehicle Distribution Center at Port Hueneme that lasted for a while. During this time I received timely updates from Jon about how things were going and pictures of the vehicle once it made it to the dealer lot.

I also lucked out with the final delivery. Before COVID-19, I was planning to take Amtrak up from San Diego and drive the 230i home, but with COVID, this was not ideal due to Amtrak service reductions. Jon helped me work out an Audi lease return to the VW dealership that belonged to the same group as BMW of Santa Maria, so I was able to drive up to Santa Maria to return the lease and pick up the new car.

Once I got to the dealership it was just an easy relaxed experience. Just signatures with Jon and Jonathan, the finance manager. No upselling at all, just going through the delivery process. At the end it was just the ideal car buying experience. A nice surprise was that I was able to get my golf clubs in the trunk without having to put the rear seats down.


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